GD acoustic: Truckin' False Start, banter, Truckin', Monkey And The Engineer, Dark Hollow, Friend Of The Devil, Ripple, Brokedown Palace, Box Of Rain, Rosalie McFall, Cold Jordan > Swing Low Sweet Chariot
NRPS set: Six Days On The Road, I Don't Know You, Superman, Henry, Portland Woman, Cecilia
GD electric: Sugar Magnolia, Dark Star > Saint Stephen > Drums > Good Lovin' > Drums > Good Lovin'
Upgrade to previous shn set.
*Acoustic set, NRPS set, and Sugar Magnolia are MAC>R>C>CD. Recorded by Jack Toner, with a Sony TC-110 with built-in microphone.
*Dark Star from MAC>?>C>R>CD. Unknown taper/equipment
*Saint Stephen>Good Lovin' from MAC>?>C>R>R>CD. Unknown taper/equipment
NOTE: This supercedes the previous copy which was labeled MAC>R>C>D>CD. That copy is a mislabel, and in reality has one more cassette generation than this one (the main source for that version derives from the tapes used for this one). Additionally, this source includes the NRPS set, and does not have the cuts in Dark Star.
September 6, 2006
Contemporary experience of this night
Michael Lydon, Rolling Stone, 17 September 1970
WE CHANGE and our changings change, a friend said once. It sounded true, but it seems too that through it all we stay the same. That obscure rumination takes us to, of all places, backstage at the Fillmore West, a spot that has mutely witnessed its share of changes and gone through a few of its own. Backstage used to be literally that, a few murky closets with just a few inches separating them from the amps. Now the car dealer on the corner has gone through his changes, and Bill Graham got extra floor space for a dressing room as big a the lobby of a grand hotel.
No palms but a lot of sofa, on one of which sat Jerry Garcia as if he owned the place. Which he once had, sort of: when it was the Carousel, changed from an Irish dance hall to a mad den of psychedelic thieves who for a few months put on a series of dances the likes of which hadnât been seen since the early days of the Fillmore.
Jerry Garcia had played over there tooâhe had been a founding member, so to speakâbut he had never owned it. Bill Graham had owned that Fillmore and now he owned this one, and Jerry was working for him one more night. There was a time when Bill Graham was always on hand when the Dead were playing, but on this night he was in New Yok on business (the next night in LA), and a second or third generation underling, a soft-faced young man named Jerry Pompili, was watching the clock and counting the heads on behalf of Fillmore Inc.
It was just past eight-thirty, showtime, and Jerry P. approached Jerry G. and asked if they were ready to go on.
Jerry was deep in one of his eyeball-to-glittering-eyeball monologues, but he paused long enough for a glance around that indicated he was the only musician present and accounted for. "The other guys will be here in a minute, man," he said. "Philâs the only one who might be late."
"Well, said Pompili, "what happens if Phil is late?" allowing into his voice a hint of his hope that the Dead would find a way to start without Phil, to be nice for once. A hopeless hope.
"Nothing happens," said Jerry, grinning deep within his hairy tangle, "Weâll start whenever Phil arrives."
"Okay," said Pompili, shrinking like a tired balloon, and Jerry geared back up to rapping speed, instantly oblivious of the interruption.
Everything had changed and nothing had changed. After over five years of extra inning play, the celebrated Fillmore (and all of rock ânâ roll show biz) versus the Grateful Dead game was still a nothing-nothing tie. For five of those years the Dead took their lumps, always scraping through but never out of trouble. In the past half year, their tenacity has finally begun to pay off (perseverance furthers, says the Book of Changes). The years of weathering cosmic crises have given them an unshakeable musical and group foundation (and even an odd sort of financial stability) and on that they are building afresh.
Typically, their luck waited until the last possible moment to change. 1969 ended with the near disaster of Altamont. The Dead had been crucial in its organisation, and they were as responsible as anyone for the sanctioned presence of the Hells Angels. That dayâthe Dead did not even get to playâwas, says Jerry, "a hard, hard lesson," and while they were absorbing it in early 1970, they had an epic management crisis. Their manager, whom they had chosen because of his honesty and earnestness, was irritating some Dead family members who did not trust his ingratiating manner. Weeks of tense encounters led to a showdown and the manager was let go. Only then did the band discover that he had been bilking them all along; by that time he had disappeared and no one had the time or the heart for a suit.
Then they got busted en masse in New Orleans (their second big bust, the first was in the fall of â67 in San Francisco). That has now turned into just an inconvenience of time and money, but in March they didnât know that. In the middle of all this, they had to make a record. Something complex was out of the question; Jerry and his writing partner Robert Hunter had some tunes, so they walked into Pacific High Recorders in San Francisco and banged it out in nine days.
The result is Workingmanâs Dead, one of the best of the few good records released this yer, the Deadâs simplest production since their first LP, and their most popular release so far. "It was something," said Jerry. "All this heavy bullshit flying around us, so we just retreated in there and made some music. Only the studio was calm. The record was the only concrete thing happening, the rest was part of that insane legal and financial figment of everybodyâs imagination, so I guess it came out of a place that was real to all of us. It was good old solid work. TC (pianist Tom Constanten) had just left to go his own way, and with his classicsal influence gone, we got back to being a rock ânâ roll band, not an experimental music group. Man, we had been wanting to boogie for a long time."
Workingmanâs Dead is just about as a good a record as a record can be. Easy on the ears from the first listening, it gets mellower as it grows on you; a lot of different rhythms but one sure pulse. In it the Dead tap the same rich American vein that The Band has reached, and like The Band, they have made from it story songs whose down-home feel hiding sophisticated structures. The Deadâs moulding of the material, however, is a lot more raw and driving. The Dead look at the world from the outside edge, and their song heroes are losers and hardworking men. "A friend of the devil is a friend of mine," they sing at one point, and the closest they come to âI Shall Be Releasedâ is:
One way or another,
One way or another,
One way or another,
This darkness got to end.
Thatâs a long way from the messianic enthusiasm of âGolden Road to Unlimited Devotionâ, but its won them more friends. Sales havenât been of hit proportions, but enough to make Warner Bros. friendly for the first time since they were trying to sign the band up.
"Of course we still owe Warners money," said Jerry, "but weâre getting the debt down to the size where itâs more like a continual advance." A Dead family member, John McIntire, is now the manager, some old friends are watching the books, and the days when organs got repossessed five minutes before showtime have receded, at least for the present.
"Weâre feeling good," Jerry went on, "really laid back, a little older and groovier, not travelling so much, staying at home and quieting down. We used to push ourselves and get crazy behind it, but now weâre getting more done but not having to work at it so hard."
No one could say when the turn from the old Grateful Dead to the new began, but they key was opening up the bandâs structure. The Deadâs complex personal changes are as legendary as their public ones, and they ended only when they decided that they didnât have to be just the Grateful Dead. They could also be Bobby Ace and the Cards from the Bottom, a country group led by Bob Weir, or Micky Hart and the Hartbeats which did a lot of golden oldie rockers. At the same time (spring 1969) Jerry got a pedal steel to fool around with and ended up commuting down to Palo Alto twice a week to play Nashville style in a little club. That group became the New Riders of the Purple Sage, and other Dead members sat in from time to time.
All that country music got them singing, something for which they had not been noteworthy in the past, and hours of three-part harmony rehearsal got them back to acoustic instruments. Less noise made them less wired. The small quiet groups could and did do club work around the Bay Area which meant gigs without touring or equipment hassles. All that ended up with the groove that made Workingmanâs Dead possible, and has created a unique musical experience which they call, rather formally, "An Evening with the Grateful Dead".
Phil arrived, sweeping in with mad-man long strides, a few minutes before nine, and the latest evening began before a happy crowd of old-time heads. They opened with the acoustic part (thereâs no other name), Jerry and Bob Weir on guitars, Pigpen on piano, Phil on electric bass, and Bill Kreutzmann (who alternates with Mikey Hart) on drums. The first tune was âTruckinââ, an easy-going autobiography of a bandâs life on the road, dotted with busts and bad times and long gone friends like Annie who theyâve heard is "living on reds, Vitamin C, and cocaine, and all you can say is, ainât it a shame."
It went on like that for an hour, music soothing to weary hearts and hard-driven minds because it understands that state of mind only too well. Jerry and Bob shared lead guitar and vocal, Pigpen doodled around when he wanted and just sat there when he didnât, and Phil and Bill kept the beat. David Nelson of the New Riders came in about halfway on mandolin, and Jerry switched to his Fender, and it was all very sweet and funky. They ended with âSwing Low Sweet Chariotâ and believe it or not, the Grateful Dead looked angelic at last.
The New Riders came on after the breakâJerry on pedal steel, Mickey on drums, David Nelson on electric guitar, Marmaduke on lead vocal and acoustic guitar, and Dave Torbert on bass. They opened with âSix Days on the Roadâ and that set the pace for a rolling set of country rock that probably sounded a lot like the Perkins Brothers when Carl was working honkytonks around Jackson, Tennessee. Except that Carl Perkins never had a drummer as intense and Mickey Hart, and while Jerry was most often tastefully traditional on the pedal steel, he allowed himself some freakouts banshee-style seldom heard below the Mason-Dixon line. They ended with âHonky Tonk Womenâ, which was a gas; Keith Richard, from a film clip in the light show, watched them without cracking a smile.
Then it was time for the Grateful Dead, and everyone was on their feet moving as they began with âDancing in the Streetâ. After that came a lovely âMama Triedâ, and then Pigpen took it away with an all-out dramatic rendition of âItâs a Manâs, Manâs Worldâ. Out of that into âNot Fade Awayâ and it was getting past one thirty; Jerry was still going strong after four hours on three instruments, but the Fillmore floor had gotten to us, and we wandered out with the Bo-Diddley-by-way-of-Buddy-Holly beat pounding on and on. It wasnât one of those weird nights when, acid-blitzed, they gushed out music as hypnotic energy; it was more legible and, if not as spellbinding, more open music.
Those weird nights are surely not gone forever, but the Dead are a bit more careful these days. "Altamont showed us that we donât want to keep people up that road anymore," Jerry said before the show. "Altamont taught us to be more cautious, to realise and respect the boundaries of our power and our space." The Dead never called themselves leaders, but they were high-energy promoters of the psychedelic revolution. On one hand, they now know that itâs not going to come as quickly as they thought; on the other, they know it is already too big for them to direct. They are now ready to be just helpers, like the rest of us. "At last the pressureâs off," said Jerry.
He was disturbed, however, about what he calls the "political pseudo-reality that we find when we go out on tour. Dig: thereâs a music festival, but because there are people there, the radicals say, itâs a political festival now, not a music festival. I donât want to take over anybodyâs mind, but I donât want anybody else to take over anybodyâs mind. If a musical experience is forcibly transferred to a political plane, it no longer has the thing that made it attractive. There is something uniquely groovy about the musical experience; it is its own beginning and end. It threatens no one.
"The San Francisco energy of a few years back has become air and spread everywhere. It was the energy of becoming free and so it became free. But the political energy, the Berkeley energy, has assumed a serpentine form, become an armed, burrowing, survival thing. Itâs still on the firebrand âTo the barricades!â trip that I thought we had been through in this century and wouldnât have to will on ourselves again.
"âAccentuate the positiveâ, though, thatâs my motto," Jerry said with a gleam in his eye. "There are more heads very day. Heads are the only people who have ever come to see us, and it used to be that if we played some places, no one would come see us because there werenât any heads in the town. Today there is no place without its hippies. No place."
With that Phil had come, and the band had to start jugginâ, playing for the people and hoping to get them high. "We realised when we started," Jerry had said a few minutes before, "that as a group we were an invention, as new as the first chapter of a novel. We started with nothing to lose. Then suddenly there was something, but always with the agreement that we could go back to nothing if we wanted. So nothing that has ever gone down for the group has ever been real except to the fiction which could be made unreal at any time. A lot of times when we were at that point, we consulted the I Ching, and the change weâve gotten has always said push on. So we have; thereâs not much else we can do until the next change."